SLATERPAULL attends the Association for Preservation Technology International Conference – Part II


Jessica R. Reske, AIA, LEED AP
Architect/Historic Preservation Specialist


After having some time to explore the City, on Day 3 of the APTI Conference, I had the opportunity to visit the exhibit hall and speak with a variety of vendors and preservation specialists.  I was pleased to be able to bring some new resources back to the office to share!

The final day of the conference, I attended three great paper sessions – highlights included:

·         Structural reinforcement of underperforming members in historic buildings is an issue that frequently comes up.  We have dealt with numerous buildings experiencing some nature of failure due to members whose capacity has been compromised through damage or that were under-designed in the first place.  Case studies were presented in this session that identified various strategies for dealing with such structural members.  A case study featuring the Hannah Barker House in Boulder was presented which included permeation grouting as a strategy to establish competent bearing materials for the foundation of the building.  This session also included a discussion of how modern building codes apply to historic structures.  When evaluating the structure of a historic building, the dead loads can be defined by observation and material properties defined by observation and testing.  The most critical element of addressing a historic building’s structure is to mitigate dangerous conditions, not to meet all requirements of current building codes which are written for the construction of new buildings. (Speakers included Eyan Solomon of Robert Silman Associates, Michael Schuller of Atkinson-Noland & Associates, Daniel Bole of Hayward Baker Geotechnical Construction, Jennifer Arndt of JVA, Inc., and Mayank Patel of Columbia University)

·         Urban Constraints on Preservation Design and Construction was the next session I attended.  This session included an examination of the structural repairs at the Federal Hall National Memorial.  Due to the seismic event resulting from the collapse of the World Trade Center, a two foot void was created below the footings for the building.  Located less than three feet from a subway tunnel, repairs were difficult as access was limited and security was a concern.  Repairs were accomplished with a unique initial reinforcement strategy installed through the first floor structure down into the foundation, followed by more elaborate foundation reinforcement accomplished through work in the basement.  The close proximity of historic buildings in New York City creates complexities in addressing foundation issues.  Frequently a foundation wall of one building in actuality supports two or three buildings.  Adjusting a foundation wall by even ¼ inch can cause issues for the adjacent buildings.  A case study presented at this session shared how Alexander Hamilton’s house was moved from an urban site to a more pastoral setting (more reminiscent of its original siting) in Manhattan.  To accomplish the move, the building was raised 30 feet in the air to lift it over the decorative masonry on the adjacent building, moved, lowered onto a truck, and driven through the city to its new site.  (Speakers included Matthew Chalifoux of EYP Architecture & Engineering, Marie Ennis of Old Structures Engineering, Daniel Friedman of Old Structures Engineering, Stephen Spaulding of the National Park Service, Nancy Rankin of John G. Waite & Associates, and Jiyoon Song of Cornell University)

·         The final paper session I attended included various methodologies and tools for documentation of a variety of historic buildings and sites.  Strategies for documentation included traditional approaches as well as digital methods of data collection and documentation.  I found the documentation used in the restoration of the Trinity Church spire particularly relevant and interesting.  Documentation was accomplished using apps on an iPad.  Each stone was identified and a strategy for rehabilitation was established using PDFs of drawings.  The information on the drawings was translated into a spreadsheet which allowed the project team to collaborate on appropriate treatments for the masonry.  The spreadsheet also allowed the project team to receive up-to-date information on project progress and to maintain a running punch list as work was completed. (Speakers included Janet Hansen of the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources, Yiannis Avramides of the World Monuments Fund, Laurie Matthews of MIG, Gretchen Hilyard of the City and County of San Francisco, Julia Ausloos of the University of Colorado – Denver, and Christy Lombardo of Integrated Conservation Resources, Inc.)

I enjoyed my time at the conference and in New York City.  Hearing others speak to a variety of preservation issues was both inspirational and motivational.  The educational value of the APTI conference is great, and I brought back much to share with fellow preservationists in Denver.  I’m already looking forward to learning more at next year’s conference in Quebec!